Gold and Ghost Towns

Gold Country and Ghost Towns of the West – History Tour Itinerary

Discover western U.S. history on these tours in small groups and additionally explore Yosemite, and Great Basin National Parks

 

Travel Dream West’s adventure tours of Gold Country and Yosemite National Park begin in the beautiful coastal city of San Francisco, California and continue with outdoor adventure travel in picture-perfect landscapes of the western US. The daily itinerary below with links to more information about each sight will help you decide that these small group tours exploring old mining areas of California and Nevada as well as Yosemite and Great Basin national parks are truly the right choice for you.

Our history tour in small groups will cover many western highlights; frequent stops at special historic, scenic, and naturally beautiful locations provide constant activities. Come join us as we explore the splendor of these largely untouched western landscapes full of fascinating mining history!

Reservations and Contact Information

prospector mural in Ely, Nevada

Mural featuring a prospector in Ely, Nevada – photo courtesy of Claudia Kleinen.


Daily Itinerary for Gold Country and Ghost Towns history tour:

Day 1: San Francisco

Meet your tour guide at 4 PM in hotel lobby for introductions, then embark on drive to Sausalito—picturesque gem of Marin County– with views of San Francisco Bay. Drive over Golden Gate Bridge, walk to vista point, and afterwards dine on the Bay in Sausalito. Here you will receive travel materials and get to know your travel companions.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Sausalito

Sausalito

Day 2: San Francisco – Santa Cruz – Mariposa

Drive Highway 1 up the Pacific coast. Explore the beach at a Marine Reserve, then proceed to the historic San Juan Bautista Mission for lunch and a glimpse into California’s Spanish colonial history. Visit a gold mining museum in Mariposa on the foothills of the gold-rich Sierra Nevada. Mariposa was an important mining camp during the Gold Rush of the Mother Lode. It was a boom town with famous names including Col. Fremont who was one of the earliest citizens in 1849 and set up the famous Mariposa Grant where the first gold quartz was mined in the State of California. 2 nights in Mariposa.

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway

Historic Mariposa

Historic Mariposa

Day 3: Mariposa Grove – Yosemite National Park

Discover the beauty of Yosemite National Park and take a easy hike amid the giant Sequoias at Mariposa Grove. Stop at Pioneer Yosemite History Center for a walk over a covered bridge and exploration of historic buildings. Explore the highlights of Yosemite Valley; walk to Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls; enjoy the Native American live art demonstrations and other resources at Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.

Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley

Day 4: Yosemite National Park – Tioga Pass – Mono Lake – Bridgeport

Cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range today, stop for walk through Tuolumne Meadows, a wonderful landscape of glacially shaped granite peaks, then drive over Tioga Pass (elevation: 9943 feet, 3031 meters). In the Great Basin on the east side of the Sierras, we explore the otherworldly beauty of Mono Lake, a vital habitat for millions of migratory and nesting birds. If time allows, we drive the gravel road to the largest, most original ghost town of California, Bodie or otherwise, will visit tomorrow morning. Night in the farming town of Bridgeport, California.

Tuolumne Meadows

Tuolumne Meadows

Mono Lake Tufa

Mono Lake Tufa

Day 5: Bridgeport – Bodie Ghost Town – Lake Tahoe – Virginia City

Walk into the past at Bodie Ghost Town–a once thriving and glorious gold mining town with 10,000 residents, 65 saloons, gambling halls and brothels. This ghost town is well described by “..a town frozen in time in a state of arrested decay”, protected by the California State Park system. Many buildings are open to explore and still have furniture and household items left back in this remote location, once the boom was over. This place provides an original view into the gold mining area in the mid to late 1800’s. Following the Sierras, we stop to explore beautiful Lake Tahoe, then continue to Virginia City, to which the Comstock Lode lured thousands of miners with the promise of gold and silver. Night in Virginia City, Nevada.

Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Day 6: Virginia City – Fort Churchill – Lahontan Reservoir – Tonopah, Nevada

A brief detour off of Highway 50 – the loneliest road in America – brings us to Fort Churchill, a way station on the Pony Express and Central Overland Routes from the 1860s. We walk through the ruins of Fort Churchill to the Central Overland Pony Express Station for an informative video about the Pony Express days. Picnic on Walker Lake, Nevada’s largest natural lake. Once we arrive at historic mining town Tonopah, we explore their well preserved large silver mine area, once the largest in the State of Nevada. We check into the old Grand Hotel of Tonopah, opened in 1905 and once the tallest building in Nevada. After years of decay it recently was renovated to its full glory. One night in Tonopah.

Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City, Nevada

Tonopah Grand Hotel

Tonopah Grand Hotel

Day 7: Tonopah – Extra Terrestrial Highway – Cathedral State Park – Ely, Nevada

We drive on the Extra Terrestrial Highway with an occasional UFO sighting. Picnic is at the E.T. Rest Area. In the middle of nowhere we find ourselves within an unreal, fascinating landscape, protected as the Cathedral State Park. Here we take a short hike and enjoy lots of unusual photo opportunities. In the evening we arrive in Ely, a copper mining town in the outback of Nevada. One night in Ely.

Cathedral S.P.

Cathedral S.P.

Ely, Nevada

Ely, Nevada

Day 8: Great Basin National Park – Salt Lake City

After breakfast we start the day with a ride on the “Ghost train of Ely”, the Nevada Northern Railway, a historical steam train and visit the impressive Depot Museum. A rare experience will be offered while driving from the low-lying desert to Great Basin National Park that peaks 6,840 ft/2,084 m. From sagebrush country we reach a glacier carved peak for a hike to the oldest living trees on earth, the Bristlecone Pines, up to 5000 years (snow permitting). We picnic along a little creek in flowering meadows shaded by tall Ponderosa Pines. Continue to Salt Lake City, the capitol of Utah. We check in at a historic downtown hotel, in short walking distance to the Mormon Temple area, the Capitol and a brand new, beautifully designed mall with good restaurants.

Nevada Northern R.R.

Nevada Northern R.R.

Great Basin N. P.

Great Basin N. P.

Day 9: Salt Lake City

Tour ends after breakfast (included). Journey home or continue on your own. We will gladly assist you in booking further travel.

This tour is combinable with an 8 day tour to Yellowstone National Park. For further information please go to: “Yellowstone North” or contact us. Combo-discounts apply!

Mormon Tabernacle

Mormon Tabernacle

good-bye-button

Tours of Gold Country and Ghost Towns in California and Nevada – Overview Page

If you have any questions about our Gold Country and Ghost Towns adventure travel tour, please feel free to contact us at info@traveldreamwest.com. Our Wild West Yellowstone tours leave three times a year and can also be reserved for a group as a custom adventure travel tour.